Bold, raw and audacious- words fall short while describing the legendary fashion and fine-arts photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta. From working with the first generation of Indian supermodels to collaborating with historian William Dalrymple to publish his book ‘Edge of Faith’, Dasgupta’s illustrious career carved a niche in the landscape of photography. Today, on his birth anniversary, here’s a look back at the master lensman’s life and work that shook the foundation of what society defined as proper.
Born in Kolkata in the year 1956, Dasgupta moved to Delhi in the 1970s along with his artist father, where he completed his education. He started his career as a copywriter but found his call in photography, which he pursued full-time in the 1980s. A student of history at the Hindu college, his interest in capturing the bygone era was clearly visible in some of Dasgupta’s works in his career.
Experimenting with monochrome and capturing Indian women far beyond the lustful perception posed by stereotypical commercial cinema was right up Dasgupta’s alley. His book ‘Women’ portrayed the charms of urban women particularly in the era where they were crushing milestones one after another and soaring past their male counterparts.
Dasgupta shot the first advertisements for KamaSutra condoms in 1991, with models Pooja Bedi and Marc Robinson, making the brand a top-selling one.
Not only portraits, Dasgupta excelled in capturing the cultural conflict of the Catholic community in Goa. The interestingly illustrated book is a treat for the eyes and is a fresh take on representational and impressionistic photography.
CONTROVERSY’S FAVOURITE CHILD
Dasgupta’s career may have been laced with accolades and honours, but it was also freckled with controversies. Having an unusual outlook regarding nudity and the need to normalise it prompted him to take up the famous Tuffs footwear ad shoot featuring Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre. The campaign shot in 1995 didn’t sit well with the audience and Dasgupta was muddled in several FIRs. But just like every silver lining, the ad campaign boosted the sales for the shoe brand massively.
INVENTOR OF GLAMOUR
Dasgupta passed away in 2012 after a fashion shoot in Alibaug. After his demise, William Dalrymple termed him as the visionary who invented glamour for India in the 1990s.
Prabuddha Dasgupta’s life and work were the perfect diffusion of art and erotic imagery. His simple yet daunting images were blossoms of his artistic mind that still amaze those who love seeing the world in an unusual way.
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